Impacts to Government

Government entities at all levels from local to federal levels experienced severe impacts due to the flooding. Many government activities fell within the broad definition of "responses," but many others were more "impacts." In 1993, 532 counties were identified as federal disaster areas; 11 counties in 1996; and in 1997, 79 counties were similarly declared. The federal government ultimately paid $6.2 billion for flood aid, insurance, and loans in 1993, and the total for 1997 is estimated at over $0.4 billion. Certain state agencies were heavily involved in flood and water monitoring, in emergency services, levee repair (National Guard units), water quality assessments, and in measuring the losses, representing a severe impact on state budgets, and the flooded states in 1993 spent an estimated $730 million on aid and rebuilding costs.

Many communities lost their water treatment plants for several weeks, making it extremely difficult and expensive to provide potable water, and many communities had severe or total losses of their sewage treatment plants. Mud-covered, flooded streets and city facilities required costly cleanup efforts, and the net result of the urban problems left many communities broke. Flood-fighting efforts at mid-sized river communities such as Quincy, Illinois, in 1993 cost $0.5 million, and $0.3 million in Aurora, Illinois, in 1996. Several flooded towns in 1993 considered relocation, and five of the badly flooded communities have subsequently relocated to higher ground.

Federal flood policies were impacted. The magnitude and damages of all three floods raised fundamental questions about the nation's floodplain management approach and the utility of the flood insurance program. In all three floods, the percent of those with floodplain insurance and damaged property was 10 percent or less. Excessive levee damages affected various governmental bodies. The levee system along the 1993 flooded rivers included 229 federal levees (39 damaged), 268

nonfederal levees (164 damaged), and 1079 private levees (879 damaged). The rebuilding of these levees has represented substantial costs to the federal government, to state governments, and to numerous local flood protection districts. Severely questioned were the benefits and effects of the development by the Corps of Engineers of the lock-and-dam system and the levee system. The Corps of Engineers calculated that the flood protection works (reservoirs and levees) on the Upper Mississippi had actually prevented an additional $4.9 billion in damages in 1993. Environmentalists countered, arguing that had the floodplains largely been left in their natural state, the two floods would have been of lesser magnitude and the damages due to unwise occupancy of the floodplains would have been negligible.

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